Thursday, February 14, 2008

LifeWay pledges $350,000 to Union for disaster relief

Trustees of LifeWay Christian Resources approved a $350,000 allocation from reserve funds to assist Union University during their Feb. 11-12 meeting in Nashville, Tenn.

Trustees approved a recommendation from their executive committee to provide $250,000 for immediate budget needs at the Jackson, Tenn., campus which sustained major losses in a Feb. 5 tornado, and $100,000 in LifeWay Christian Stores gift cards to help students replace lost textbooks and supplies.

LifeWay’s administration also authorized the formation of employee relief teams to assist Union in disaster relief efforts as Union President David S. Dockery identifies needs.

In a phone call Monday night to Union University President David S. Dockery broadcast live to all trustees, LifeWay President Thom S. Rainer said, “We want to walk alongside our brothers and sisters in Christ at Union University. We thank God that lives were spared, and we thank God for your incredible leadership. You have stood tall at a time when the pressure would have crushed other leaders.”

Dockery responded, “I am overwhelmed by your kindness and generosity at this critical moment. There has never been a more pressing challenge in Union’s 180-year history. The opportunity to move forward will only take place as Union’s friends become agents of God’s grace in time of need. I thank you, I thank the board, I thank the LifeWay family for an unbelievably kind and generous gift to us at this particular moment. We thank you from the depths of our hearts.”

Rainer, in addressing LifeWay’s trustees, had noted that the Southern Baptist entity is “able to do some things that others cannot do.”

“We heard about the tragedy; we heard of the miracle that lives were spared,” Rainer said. “I believe that LifeWay has been given a unique opportunity for a unique time,” he continued. “We have resources for a unique time. It is time for LifeWay to step up and walk alongside our brothers and sisters at Union.”

Rainer asked trustees to “do something tangible” by approving the $350,000 disbursement to Union.

“Union has a long history with LifeWay,” Rainer said, noting that for years Union has hosted LifeWay-sponsored Centrifuge youth camps. Union also is the only college campus in the nation with a LifeWay Christian Store.

“Throughout the LifeWay family we have alumni, employees with children and friends at Union and employees who have close connections with Union University,” Rainer added. “Many students lost everything. It is my hope and prayer that others will now walk alongside us as we walk alongside Union.”

Following the conversation with Dockery via speakerphone during the trustee meeting, Rainer said, “This is what LifeWay is truly about. Yes, we are a business, but we are first a ministry.”

-- Reported by Rob Phillips, director of communications for LifeWay Christian Resources, and Russ Rankin, manager of editorial services.